Archaeological news about the Archaeology of Early Medieval Europe from the Archaeology in Europe web site

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Burial sites from 5th and 6th centuries yield unexpected treasures

Some of the artefacts discovered during excavations in Lincolnshire. 
Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

Archaeologists have uncovered lavish burial sites for women in Lincolnshire from the fifth and sixth centuries, which illustrate how women of the time made themselves resplendent.

Items recovered from the previously unknown Anglo-Saxon cemetery include jewellery made from amber, silver and glass as well as personal grooming items such as tweezers.

Dr Hugh Willmott, senior lecturer in European historical archaeology from Sheffield University and a dig leader, said: “These women wore necklaces made from sometimes hundreds of amber, glass and rock crystal beads, used personal items such as tweezers, carried fabric bags held open by elephant ivory rings, and wore exquisitely decorated brooches to fasten their clothing.

Read the rest of this article...

Archeologists find Viking sword in southern Turkey


Turkish archeologists uncover Viking sword from 9th-10th century in ancient city of Patara

Searching through the ancient city of Patara in Turkey's Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, Turkish archeologists uncovered a sword dating back to over a millennium.

Lead excavator Professor Havva Iskan Isik of Akdeniz University told Anadolu Agency that they identified a Viking sword from the ninth or 10th century.

Isik said they have been carrying out excavation works for 30 years and have discovered important archaeological evidence so far. 

"Finding a Viking sword in a harbor city in the Mediterranean area is of great importance," she said.

Read the rest of this article...

Lincolnshire Anglo-Saxon cemetery burials unearthed

Experts said a "significant proportion of very lavish burials" belonged to women

Burials of richly-dressed women interred with their jewellery and personal items have been unearthed at an Anglo-Saxon cemetery.

About 20 graves dating to the fifth and sixth centuries, including one containing a woman cradling a baby, were found in the Lincolnshire Wolds.

The cemetery was discovered after a metal detectorist uncovered artefacts at the site in Scremby, near Skegness.

Experts said there was a "rich array" including necklaces and brooches

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Viking city: excavation reveals urban pioneers not violent raiders

Mould carved from soapstone for making ingots and and an axe amulet, both discovered at Ribe. Photograph: Museum of Southwestern Jutland

Excavations in Ribe, Denmark show that Viking culture was based on sophisticated production and trade. Is their brutal reputation unfair?

In an extraordinary moment captured on film this summer, the tuning pegs and neck of a lyre, a harplike stringed instrument, were carefully prised out of the soil of Ribe, a picturesque town on Denmark’s south-west coast. Dated to around AD720, the find was the earliest evidence not just of Viking music, but of a culture that supported instrument-makers and musicians.

The same excavation also found the remains of wooden homes; moulds for fashioning ornaments from gold, silver and brass; intricate combs made from reindeer antlers (the Viking equivalent of ivory); and amber jewellery dating to the early 700s.

Even more extraordinary, however, was the discovery that these artefacts were not for home consumption by farmers, let alone itinerant raiders. Instead, the Vikings who made them lived in a settled, urban community of craftsmen, seafarers, tradesmen and, it seems, musicians.

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

How Industrial-Scale Tar Production Powered the Viking Age

“Viking Ships Before a Rocky Coast,” by Michael Zeno Diemer (1911)
Image: Wikimedia

Vikings acquired the capacity to produce tar at an industrial scale as early as the 8th century AD, according to new research. The protective black goo was applied to the planks and sails of ships, which the Vikings used for trade and launching raids. Without the ability to produce copious amounts of tar, this new study suggests, the Viking Age may have never happened.

Tar sounds like a relatively modern invention, but it’s actually been around for quite some time. By the 16th century, Europeans had developed a technique whereby piles of wood, placed in funnel-shaped pits, were burned slowly under an oxygen-constricting layer of an earth-clay mixture and charcoal. Dripping tar from the burning wood fell into an outlet pipe, from which the precious material was collected.

Read the rest of this article...

The secret of Viking success? A good coat of tar…

Industrial pits led to waterproofed ships for epic pillaging raids


A replica Viking longboat in the Up Helly Aa festival in Lerwick, Shetland Islands. The Norse warrior race dominated European seas in the 8th century. 
Photograph: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty

Vikings conquered Europe thanks to an unexpected technological innovation. They learned how to make tar on an industrial scale and used it to waterproof their longships so that they could undertake large-scale, lengthy pillaging trips around Europe – and across the Atlantic, say archaeologists. Norse raiders were the original Boys from the Blackstuff, it transpires.

The discovery is the work of Andreas Hennius, of Uppsala University. In Antiquity, he reports finding critical evidence that shows output from tar pits in Scandinavia increased dramatically just as Vikings began raiding other parts of Europe. These pits could have made up to 300 litres in a single production cycle, enough to waterproof large numbers of ships. “Tar production … developed from a small-scale activity … into large-scale production that relocated to forested outlands during the Viking period,” says Hennius. “This change … resulted from the increasing demand for tar driven by an evolving maritime culture.”

Read the rest of this article...

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Norse World goes live!


And the Norse World resource goes live! Today, on 7 November the research infrastructure Norse World is being released with free access for researchers and the members of the public.
Norse World is an interactive spatial-temporal resource for research on spatiality and worldviews in medieval literature from Sweden and Denmark. Go to the map to see for yourself! Or find out more about the project and the Norse World infrastructure.

Read the rest of this article...